Income taxes on pre-tax contributions and investment earnings in the form of interest and dividends are tax deferred. The ability to defer income taxes to a period where one's tax rates may be lower is a potential benefit of the 401(k) plan. The ability to defer income taxes has no benefit when the participant is subject to the same tax rates in retirement as when the original contributions were made or interest and dividends earned. Earnings from investments in a 401(k) account in the form of capital gains are not subject to capital gains taxes. This ability to avoid this second level of tax is a primary benefit of the 401(k) plan. Relative to investing outside of 401(k) plans, more income tax is paid but less taxes are paid overall with the 401(k) due to the ability to avoid taxes on capital gains.
The downside to this is that some banks may charge to issue a check to another bank of custodian when you are moving your IRA. This limit on IRA-to-IRA rollovers does not apply to eligible rollover distributions from an employer plan. Therefore, you can roll over more than one distribution from the same qualified plan, 403(b) or 457(b) account within a year. This one-year limit also does not apply to rollovers from Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs (i.e. Roth conversions.)
There are a number of "safe harbor" provisions that can allow a company to be exempted from the ADP test. This includes making a "safe harbor" employer contribution to employees' accounts. Safe harbor contributions can take the form of a match (generally totaling 4% of pay) or a non-elective profit sharing (totaling 3% of pay). Safe harbor 401(k) contributions must be 100% vested at all times with immediate eligibility for employees. There are other administrative requirements within the safe harbor, such as requiring the employer to notify all eligible employees of the opportunity to participate in the plan, and restricting the employer from suspending participants for any reason other than due to a hardship withdrawal.
Once an IRA rollover is completed, however, the resulting account is very similar to a traditional IRA. They can utilize the same investment options and providers with the same contribution limits and eligibility requirements. While rollover IRAs have unique rules for setup, the rules and deadlines that apply after an account are established are the same as traditional IRAs.
Making a distribution is an easy process. Since you cannot make a distribution directly to a charity, your administrator must transfer the money directly to the charity. Simply contact your plan administrator and tell them you would like to make a charitable donation from your IRA. Typically, they will supply you with a distribution form for you to fill out and return.
This tax information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal, or investment planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Schwab recommends that you consult with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner, or investment manager. Depending on the type of account you have, there are different rules for withdrawals, penalties, and distributions. Please understand these before opening your account.
After you’ve identified a new provider to hold your rollover IRA, you should be able to go ahead and complete the account application process. You will need an account in which to deposit your funds, completing your IRA rollover. Setting up your account before starting the rollover process will help ensure that the funds are deposited within the 60-day window.
Account owners must begin making distributions from their accounts by April 1 of the calendar year after turning age 70 1/2 or April 1 of the calendar year after retiring, whichever is later. The amount of distributions is based on life expectancy according to the relevant factors from the appropriate IRS tables. For individuals who attain age 70 1/2 after December 31, 2019, distributions are required by April 1 of the calendar year after turning age 72 or April 1 of the calendar year after retiring, whichever is later.
Many plans also allow employees to take loans from their 401(k) to be repaid with after-tax funds at predefined interest rates. The interest proceeds then become part of the 401(k) balance. The loan itself is not taxable income nor subject to the 10% penalty as long as it is paid back in accordance with section 72(p) of the Internal Revenue Code. This section requires, among other things, that the loan be for a term no longer than 5 years (except for the purchase of a primary residence), that a "reasonable" rate of interest be charged, and that substantially equal payments (with payments made at least every calendar quarter) be made over the life of the loan. Employers, of course, have the option to make their plan's loan provisions more restrictive. When an employee does not make payments in accordance with the plan or IRS regulations, the outstanding loan balance will be declared in "default". A defaulted loan, and possibly accrued interest on the loan balance, becomes a taxable distribution to the employee in the year of default with all the same tax penalties and implications of a withdrawal.
“The ability to rollover retirement assets can lead to a simpler retirement strategy with more control over investment choices. If an individual has had multiple employers throughout their working career, he or she most likely have multiple retirement accounts. It can become easy to lose track of those accounts. Rolling those accounts over to another IRA or potentially even a Roth IRA can drastically simplify an overall portfolio. While funds are in a 401(k)/403(b), investment options are limited to what the company has approved. Once a rollover is completed, a client has access to a much larger pool of investment options.” — Ben Koval, Financial Planner, Decker Retirement Planning
The traditional process of doing an IRA rollover can be somewhat cumbersome and leave account holders with a lot to manage. As a result, most people don’t use a traditional 60-day rollover process to establish a rollover IRA unless they want access to their retirement funds for 60 days as part of 401(k) business funding. Instead, they use direct transfers.
In a direct transfer, account holders who want to move money work through their new provider rather than the old one. When setting up their new account, they have the new custodian initiate a transfer request, which moves the account directly from the old custodian. Using a direct transfer, the old custodian doesn’t always even have to sell all the investments within an account — they can sometimes transfer the account with the current portfolio intact.